Nineteen months old and already walking, Juniper Barn is not going to fly or even run: it has no need. Not only is it full of local people for morning coffee, all-day breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, it also supplies locally roasted organic and fair trade coffee and tea priced to compete with the often bland alternatives in supermarkets, fresh produce from no further than you can throw it – not that you would – and has deliveries every Thursday of the splendid Lady Whincup’s bouquets. Even the art and photographs for sale on the walls are from locals, one of whom has just won the ‘best young artist’ prize at the National Portrait Gallery competition.
The owners are passionately committed to their work and its importance to the village, yet are just as welcoming to visitors, whether from elsewhere in Suffolk or further afield in the annual metropolitan descent on Snape Maltings and the various other festivals along the Heritage Coast. At scarcely five miles from Framlingham and its tremendous castle, not to mention historic church, or even less from the A12 and Saxmundham, it is more than worth a visit.
Opening times are from 8 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday and 9 to 4 on Saturday. For those who find the winding road a trial there are even two bed and breakfast rooms and the White Horse pub less than a hundred yards away serves evening meals with a local emphasis. We followed a cyclist from nearby Sweffling (there is a special area for customers to store bikes) and squeezed into the last car park space. There were people of all ages inside, from a tiny girl enjoying ‘babycino’ with her parents, after a short game with the toys thoughtfully provided, to silver-age locals and others like ourselves from ‘away’.
Having come for the flowers we were tempted by the freshly gathered potatoes and asparagus, no more expensive than any bigger shop, then sat down for delicious coffee and cake. Half an hour later and we’d have had lunch: the choice is wide-ranging and the prices greasy-spoon, though the resemblance ends there. The tables have Lady Whincup flower decorations. Whether that is a trading or real name we don’t know but she is certainly charming to talk to and will deliver special bouquets anywhere in the locality as well the weekly bunches to Snape, Friday Street farm shop and the Barn.
The cakes were Tunisian citrus and honey with almond, both too good to share. In a village so small as to count tens rather than hundreds of houses, Juniper Barn is a more than enviable asset. It stands next to the village hall with the church in close proximity. At one end of the barn is the studio of Art 90, from where the paintings are supplied. Although the brilliant photographs betray exotic locations – Andean peaks and African big game – the photographer is, you’ve guessed, a villager.
In every sense this is a hub par excellence. Anyone visiting the area, if not lucky enough to live in Suffolk, should add Rendham and Juniper Barn to their ‘must do’ list.